Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Tandem Phenomonon and the Price of Internal Insurgence

After trying to catch up to a co-ed tandem bike team this morning, to no avail, I realized something: I have never ever seen a co-ed tandem bike with the woman riding in front.

Is this due to weight ratios, or to the male ego?

Tandem Bike

And, four months after the murder of personal internal opposition (aka my appendix), I finally received the hospital bill. Guess how much it was? I'll give you a hint: I could've had a BMW 1-series instead.

BMW 1 series

That's right, it apparently costs $30,000 to destroy internal insurgents. I'll bet it costs the American government the same amount to destroy a single internal insurgent. At least Blue Cross helped me out, so I am not currently indebted to China.

Even though the blood-circulating moon boots in my hospital room were cool, I'd rather have a hot tub and a Vegas skyline view for the same price.

And that's today's Word.

(Yes, I've been watching too much Colbert Report lately.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Nautica Malibu Triathlon Circus

Where can you watch giggling girls gush over Chris McCormack when he joins their heat to race, then see the Ironman world champ cross the finish line the next day to a crowd of puzzled faces asking, “Chris Macca Who?”

Or where does a race participant have a bodyguard for the swim, and all of her family members allowed in transition?

Jennifer Lopez triathlon swim

Where can you get mowed over by paparazzi taking pictures of one shirtless man, singled out in a crowd of many equally handsome, if not more chiseled dudes?

Matthew McConaughey triathlon

And where can you jump into an ocean-side changing room with nobody around one day, then go to the same room to be surrounded by women doing their make-up and adjusting their push-up bras the next?

Only in Malibu at the Nautica Malibu Triathlons!

Nautica Malibu Tri Logo

This year was the first to have an Olympic distance tri on Saturday, in addition to the star-studded sweatfest that is Sunday’s weird-sprint-distance tri phenomenon.

It seemed to break down like this: athletes looking to actually race a real triathlon signed up for Saturday’s event, while athletes looking to get a glimpse of their favorite stars stuffed into Xterra wetsuits raced on Sunday.

And athletes like me found a way to be involved in both days, equally intrigued by the prospect of brushing arms with Macca and Hunter Kemper as by blowing past J. Lo on the swim, or giving Matthew McConaughey a run for his money.

Saturday’s race started with a long walk down the beach to the race start, where co-ed relays and girls 29-and-under lined up, and were soon joined by none other than Chris McCormack. He was quickly recognized, then fawned over. The photo ops never seemed to end, as girls threw their arms over his shoulders, and dudes shook his hand. Then the cannon went off, and we all got down to business.

I should've counted the buoys before starting the swim, because every time I got to one, I convinced myself the next one was the end, only to be sorely mistaken. As much as I love swimming, my right hambutt had enough after the third buoy, and told me I'd better hurry up and start biking because the evil muscle would only give me a 2.5 hour time limit before it would secede from my body.

On the bike, hambutt and I felt much better. We beat other girls on our rack out of transition, giving us a feeling of untouchable glory. We had ridden the out-and-back stretch of PCH that is the Malibu Tri bike course numerous times, and were ready to have it to ourselves without traffic for the first time.

We flew out to the turn-around, then noticed a line of people and parked bikes by Encinal Canyon, one of our favorite climbs. A closer look revealed a triathlete lying on the road with what looked like a blood-soaked towel under his head, and another athlete a few feet away being sat upright by people holding her neck. Not good.

We continued on, watching ambulances and firetrucks drive the other way. We had passed other girls who had kicked hambutt in the swim and we were feeling fierce. We beat a Michellie Jones look-alike (she was wearing the full pink-and-blue Michellie kit) out of transition. We ran for our lives.

Michellie joined us for the first two miles, after another young girl leapt ahead of us like a gazelle. Hambutt would not think of catching her. Then, Michellie made her move. Hambutt warned me that if I tried to stay with her, he would take me down. At least, that's what he implied when he started to hurt. He still wasn't keeping me from running as fast as I could. Michellie, unfortunately, was faster.

Hambutt and I triumphantly crossed the finish line in a new Olympic-distance PR. He was promptly treated to a free post-race massage and promised he'd end his tyranny of my right side if I promised not to make him run another 10K for a very long time. We had a deal. We couldn't compromise on the swimming, however. He wanted none of it, and I was set to return the next day as a part of a Paramount tri team relay.

The Nautica Malibu Triathlon, Part Two: "Classic" Distance and Mind over Hambutt

Where pros are usually racked, pro actors and actresses were instead, along with a throng of camera-toting foreigners clamoring for the shots I'm using for free here.

Matthew McConaughey triathlon

J. Lo's paparazzi mowed down anyone who stepped in their way as they walked backwards toward J. Lo's swim wave start, following her and hubby Marc Antony. On another section of beach, Matthew McConaughey stood in his traditional pose: no top on. He was half-dressed in a wetsuit, and coachubby remarked that he has quite a toosh on him. A man-J. Lo, if you will.

J Lo tri paparazzi

The celebrities went off in their own wave, with the blow of an ear-drum popping cannon. My wave was 10 minutes back. I wanted to accidentally swim over Matthew McConaughey. It didn't happen. As a consolation, I swam right by Jennifer Lopez, who is the only triathlete I've ever seen to bring a bodyguard / trainer (was it Gunnar Peterson who was in the water with her?) along on the swim...probably to guard her from men who had the same idea about swimming on top of her as I did about Matthew McConaughey. (Smart move, J. Lo.) She was easy to spot, with giant aqua-sphere-like goggles on.

I ran into transition, slapped the timing chip on my teammate, and watched him run out with his bike to compete in his first triathlon. I was like a proud mom.

In the meantime, coachubby and I made our way to the finish line to watch stars like Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lopez, Eliza Dushku, Anna Kournikova, Zach Morris and Kelly Kapowski from "Saved by the Bell", Felicity Huffman, Jon Cryer, and Scott Foley come through. In three years of living in LA, I hadn't seen a celebrity yet, but this race made up for it. It was like a dream--besides all the "celebrity" celebrities, tri celebrities Hunter Kemper, Chris McCormack, Katya Meyers, and a ridiculously tall Jasmine Oeinck also participated in one way or another.

Jennifer Lopez runs

Coachubby then frantically led me to the awards stage for the celebrity ceremony--Cindy Crawford was giving out the medals.

All in all, it was the ultimate triathlon-in-LA experience. If you come for the Nautica Malibu triathlon, you might as well do them both, even in the event of a protest from a broken hambutt. Race the first day, then stay for the media frenzy of the "Classic" distance race. You'll get your shot at Olympic-distance glory and get to hobnob with tri-stars, then rub shoulders with (or swim over) your favorite TV stars without ever having to leave gorgeous Zuma beach!

Gotta love America, where Jennifer Lopez can get more media coverage for triathlon by participating in her first than Hunter Kemper ever did for being an Olympian in the sport!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Greg Bennett and Andy Potts Pose

with coachubby and me! Maybe the endorphins, or the thrill of winning mucho moolah at the Los Angeles Triathlon last Sunday had something to do with it, but these two seem to be genuinely big sweethearts who aren't afraid to pose with the little people.

Greg Bennett at LA Triathlon

Greg Bennett, the winner of the 2008 Los Angeles Triathlon. He did the 40K bike in 53:54! And it wasn't flat!

Andy Potts at LA Triathlon

Andy Potts. He finished just 43 seconds behind Greg Bennett, and had the fastest run split of the day at 31:18. Geeeez.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Los Angeles Triathlon--It's Not Flat

The Los Angeles Triathlon, as a part of the Life Time Fitness tri series, makes an interesting proposition to some athletes: forgo age-group medal glory to be treated like a pro and have your ass kicked royally, or stick with your age group and enjoy your time on the podium.

Life Time Fitness Triathlon

In order to go route #1, you must present the race directors with proof you can break a 2:30 in an Olympic distance race. Or, if you never have, as was my case, somehow convince them that you believe you can go that fast by race day.

Thus begin the adventures of the "Elite" age-group athlete. Once you are accepted you can (a) plan out your winning strategy, or top-5 finish, which will get you an all-expenses-paid trip to the championship race in Dallas, or (b) pray that you brake 2:30 so you don't look like a total weenus coming across the finish line long after everyone in your original age group.

I went with plan B, figuring on a flat course I should be safely under that mark. Don't ask me how I expected anywhere in LA to be flat. My wishful misconception was set straight at an "Elite" meeting the afternoon before the race. If you ever want to feel like the fattest, most unfit person on earth, when in reality, you're usually the fittest person amongst all of your friends, go sit in on an "Elite" age-group meeting. I swear most of the people there probably turned pro after this race.

Coachubby woke me at 4 am yesterday morning. He wanted good rack space and wasn't afraid to sacrifice sleep--mine or his--to get it. A friend arrived at 4:45 to drive us 10 miles north to the race start in Venice Beach.

Perk #1 of being an Elite athlete popped up immediately: we had freaking awesome rack space. Rack space that was equally as awesome as the pros', right next to the "bike out" exit. I would say Perk #2 came shortly thereafter, when The Bachelor's Andy Baldwin racked next to me, but I never saw the show, and therefore had no idea who he was until a friend informed me after the race.

Perk #3: starting just after the pros. The pro men went splashing off into the ocean, followed by only 7 pro women, 5 of whom were surprisingly tiny. Then came the "Elite" wave. The men and women start all together--all 44 of us. (32 men, 12 women.) After having cameras flashed in our faces for 5 minutes, the horn blew, and we were off.

The group immediately divided itself in two: those who have swum in the ocean before, and those who were uncertain what to do about the waves. The first group dove in, the second stood and stared for a moment. I saw it all happen, because I arrived last-ish to the surf from the run down the beach.

It was impossible to see buoys, so following other people seemed like a good idea. But after rounding the first buoy, there were no other people in sight. We all had black caps, and were virtually undetectable in the early morning murky, scummy waters of Venice Beach. My fear of being the slowest and therefore looking like the best shark bait quickly became a reality--everybody else was long gone ahead of me. At least, I thought, the lifeguards were sitting on long boards all alone, too. They might look equally as tasty.

My greatest achievement in this ocean-swelly swim was catching a wave on the way out.

I ran into T1, hearing an announcer yell, "There are still elite people coming up! Get out of the way!" I was relieved to see my bike was not all alone--close to it--but not all alone. After an embarrassing mishap with the rubber band attached to my bike shoe attached to my bike (it didn't snap, and I didn't get my feet into my shoes), I was off.

One woman passed me within the first seven miles. One man played yo-yo with me for a while. Then it was just me. All alone. Riding down the wide-open, poorly maintained, cloudy streets of LA. It was exhilarating and massively creepy all at the same time. I got nervous that the random, enthusiastic homeless people cheering for me were planning the abduction of my bike. Nobody would've seen it happen. (Perk negative-1 of being in the Elite group.)

Finally, on a 5-mile out-and-back on Sunset Boulevard, I saw people going the other way. They were still far enough ahead that I'd come bombing down a hill toward cross-traffic only to have cops hold it up at the last moment so I could cruise through an intersection. Scary? Yes. Even more scary? The clueless pedestrians who decided crossing at the bottom of a hill right in front of me was the best idea ever. I screamed an incomprehensible war cry that got one little old lady running a race of her own.

The final descent down Grand Avenue is exhilarating and nerve wracking. Some boastful people claimed to have topped 50mph on it. They must have really good brakes, as the hill ends in a sharp, right-hand turn into T2. There was water-bottle and watter-bottle-holder carnage strewn across the road from people hitting bumps at high speed.

After noting that it took way less time to bike to downtown LA than it ever took to drive there, I ran out of T2, ready to destroy my hambutt (the non-technical term for where the hamstring meets the butt, which I injured a few weeks before) in the hopes of breaking 2:30. My bike time was 6 minutes slower than I had hoped. I was ready for idiotic pain.

After about two minutes of running, Becky Lavelle bounded by. And Julie Swail, and Rebecca Wassner. I looked at their pro number belts and read their last names in awe. Then I realized I had forgotten my number belt. Oops.

After a mile of flat roads, Grand Avenue loomed forth. One step up the incline and my quad became a cramped mess. I kept running. Water bottles were ejected from bikes whizzing by on the right. I kept running. My hambutt let me know it was unhappy with my decision, but that it wouldn't vindictively try to slow me down, since its friend, Quad, was doing a nice job of that already. I kept running.

Back up Grand for the second time. I noticed a woman with a blue bib number running out while I was going back. I wasn't last! Hooray! I kept running in an effort to make sure my placement stayed that way.

When I crossed the finish line, which is magnificent, nestled between the Staples Center and the NOKIA Theatre, my quad, hambutt and I were happy to be done. But there was no clock at the finish line. Had I justified my presence in the Elite group? My rack space next to The Bachelor? My opportunity to fly solo down the major streets of LA?

Results finally went up. I had just made it.

To top off such an epic day, coachubby and I got pictures with Greg Bennett and Andy Potts, two newly-rich (by tri standards) pros who hung around the finish, giving drooling fans like me a chance to meet them. Pictures coming soon!

So was it worth giving up a potential podium age group finish to be the caboose on the Elite train? You betcha. The program gave me and 43 other people a chance some of us would never otherwise have to pretend to be pros for the day. It was an opportunity to meet some of tomorrow's pros, have an open ocean and road to race through, get killer rack positions, and start before the weather warmed up too much.

So if you think you can break 2:30, or are a sandbagging age-grouper, step it up and do one of the Life Time Fitness series races as an Elite amateur. The rewards are far greater than age-group glory.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Triathlon Vocabulary for the Erudite Triathlete


Every sport has its own set of vocab words. It just so happens, however, that by choosing to be a triathlete, you get the largest ratio of fun vocab words to single sport there is. That’s what happens when your sport is actually three.

So, in the interest of turning yourself into a triathlon pedant, here are a few words to add to your lexicon:

porn (adj.) – totally hot, smokin’, rad. Usually referring to a piece of equipment.

“Man, you got Campy Record shifters on that bike! That’s so porn!”

(Courtesy of Peter Brantley)

chicked (v.) – to be smoked by a woman.

“Dude, I saw you get chicked on the bike. That lady come out of transition five minutes ahead of you!”

“I totally got chicked.”
(Usually followed by a longing look toward the hot, fast woman.)

“Tina just chicked you, man.”

aggro (adj.) –extremely aggressive tactics (Nothing to do with farming—note the two g’s.)

“You were totally aggro going out on that first swim loop so fast!"

“This guy came flying by me in aero totally aggro, then died by T2.”

"If you're not aggro in a sprint from start to finish, you won't win!"

Make flashcards. Write them on your hands. Do whatever you must to memorize these words, then bust ‘em out at your next group event. Your less-scholarly tri-buddies will envy you.


Triathlete Diva

Monday, August 25, 2008

Emma Snowsill Rocks

Emma Snowsill

Rockstar Emma Snowsill with her gold.

I had to put a picture up to bump down that creepy Canadian bike hoarder.

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 22, 2008

If Your Bike was Stolen in Toronto...

You just might find it here, in Igor Kenk's arsenal of 2, 396 stolen bikes!

If you ever see this dude:

Igor Kenk

keep riding. Don't park your bike anywhere near him!

Bikes across Canada are breathing a collective sigh of relief after learning about Kenk's arrest in July.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

PMS, the Olympics, and the Triathlete

The Olympics are inspiring. Motivating. Totally awesome. But when a triathlete has PMS, the Olympics can become an emotional roller coaster--and not just because she had heart palpitations the entire time Michael Phelps was swimming the 100 fly.

Michael Phelps

PMS invades the woman's brain, taking over any normal functionality. Men may have witnessed this freakish occurrence at some point or another in their lives. The woman cries for no reason, like when Jason Lezak helped the US win the men's 4 x 100 relay against the boastful, snobby French team.

The usually active, PMSing woman will then sit in front of the TV for hours on end, munching on everything in the house, while believing she is somehow doing something healthful by watching the Olympics.

Usain Bolt

She convinces herself that focusing on Phelps' stroke will make her a better swimmer. Watching Bolt run will make her a faster runner, a skill she needs because she wants to be just like Emma Snowsill. As coachubby put it, the Aussie ran like she was an Ethiopian. The PMSing woman wants to run like an Ethiopian, and somehow believes she will get faster as she takes another bite of chocolate, and adjusts herself on the couch to watch more track finals.

Emma Snowsill

She sacrifices sleep, just to get a glimpse of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh's gold-medal match, a part of their unprecedented 108-match winning streak, while knowing that in no way is watching volleyball going to make her a better triathlete. Perhaps, she thinks, she'll meet Misty May while walking around Manhattan Beach someday, and will be happy to report she's fully aware of the Olympian's accomplishments.

Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh

She watches the women's cycling time trial, convinced that is the event she could compete in at the Olympics--it was only a 14-mile course, after all. Kristin Armstrong is now a new idol of the PMSer. The afflicted woman then starts to imagine darting past Big Ben, the Globe Theatre, and the London Eye on her Kuota.

Kristin Armstrong

When the coachubby wakes her up in the morning to train, however, the PMSer refuses; her mind is frazzled from all of that virtual swimming, running, and cycling. Her body is tired from staying up too late to fit it all in.

Big Ben

And such is the vicious cycle of created by PMS and the Olympics. Good thing they each only last 1 or 2 weeks, respectively!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ode to a Toenail Lost

Happy feet

You held on

For so long

it is true

But this morning

without warning

breaststroke kicking killed you

Oh brave little toenail

Second on the right

You served without fail

and gave a good fight

Though Ironman turned you blue

You stuck through more training like glue

But today

Death became you

I will not forget you easily

Especially because now my foot looks freaky

I eagerly await your renewal

so I can wear open-toed shoe-als

Know that you died for a noble reason

and do not fear, it's the end of the season

So you'll be loved more and not destroyed

Unless I decide to run a marathon to fill the void!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How to Ocean Swim Without Being Eaten

You could fork up $700 for a Shark Shield...however this headline: "Shark Shield Experiences Epic Failure, Gets Chomped by Great White" may deter you from wasting your money. You might be better off investing in swim lessons to get fast enough to swim away from impending doom, should you see a giant jaw open up below you.

Shark Shield

Or, you could swim where there are a LOT of other people, making your chances of becoming breakfast much slimmer. Especially if you're wearing a bathing suit, and almost everyone else looks like a seal.

The abundance of other meal options was the justification for why I drove 30 minutes to and from Santa Monica this morning to swim in the ocean, instead of walking 10 minutes down the road to swim in my ocean.

A group of swimmers numbering maybe 50(?) met south of the Santa Monica pier, ignoring all warnings that water there is known to have high bacteria levels, just so they could all swim together out to a bright orange buoy, then back in again...over and over. It was awesome.

Ocean swim

Plainly called the "Wednesday Ocean Speed Circuit", the weekly event was very worth the ridiculous amount of time it took to get to and from it. The "real" swimmers almost all were in bathing suits, and went around the buoy several times. While I am always the butt of the real swimmers, and the head of the triathletes (hence why I'm usually the best-looking meal option, swimming all alone), this time it didn't matter. I was surrounded by real swimmers up front, and triathletes behind. And after the first loop, there were people everywhere. It was awesome. I only freaked myself out once, believing I saw a fin...which could've happened--there were dolphins out there too...with 4 eyes! Just kidding.

Happy shark

Moral of the story: If you love to swim in the ocean, but have a hyperactive imagination and no control over your consequent heart palpitations, which you in turn believe attract sharks, who can detect your spastic electrical pulses, do an ocean speed circuit swim. If you don't have one, set one up. And if you live by a lake, you didn't even need to read this...unless you've heard rumors about lake-monster sightings.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Rock Hard Runners Rarin' to Go!

Do you have chronic running problems? Like a relentless IT band that just won't leave you in peace? Or perpetual slow-runner syndrome? Want to go faster, or run injury free? Maybe it's time you got a professional run analysis.

While your chances of making it to this year's Olympics are over, maybe after receiving the gift that is a professional run analysis, you'll give Gebrselassie a run for his money at the next Olympics, provided it's not too smoggy.

And I know just the man for the job! Standing something like 6'5", 200lbs (I made that up. But he's a tall, muscular runnerman), Eric Skelley of Manhattan Beach is taking his passion for running and using it to help others achieve their fast-footed goals.

Rock Hard Runners is Eric's running company, based in Manhattan Beach, CA, in his garage. And there is absolutely no better place to have a run analysis--or person to do it for you. Skelley's passion oozes through every inch of him, which makes it impossible for any serious runner to be as passionate as he, just based on total human surface area.

Rock Hard Runners Eric

Eric will take you through a 10 minute warm-up on his treadmill, then have you run at a comfortable pace while filming you--first from the side, then from the back, then close up on your feet.

Next, he'll have you cool down, then watch yourself on a giant flat screen computer monitor. Get excited, this is your Pam Anderson in Baywatch moment. Your movements will be shown in slo-mo and analyzed. Right away, you'll probably see what you're doing wrong. (And if your shorts really aren't that flattering.)

After figuring out what you need to work on so you can have your showdown with Gebrselassie in 2012, Eric will teach you core strengthening techniques that will not only flatten your abs in no time, giving you a flashy figure, but also help make you a stronger, faster runner.

What sets Rock Hard Runners apart from the rest? The man, and the location. Several other run-analysis companies in Los Angeles are incredibly corporate. They run you through the gammut, comment on your form, show you the video, and give you exercises. But could they care less if you actually get better? I got the feeling from one Santa Monica-based company that they wanted me to stay miserably mired in IT problems forever so they could prescribe their expensive run-specific weight-training packages to me in the future.

Eric and Rock Hard Runners is different.

Eric's "runner's den" is a very casual environment a few blocks away from the beach, and all the attractions Manhattan Beach has to offer. And, most importantly, the sole focus of your analysis is YOU. There is nobody else there, just you and the original Rock Hard Runner himself, who has a genuine desire to see you succeed as a runner. His enthusiasm for the sport is almost tangible.

Eric, a native of Pennsylvania, is a 3x Ironman finisher, and finisher of the annual 50-mile endurance run on Catalina Island, one of the toughest out there. A big proponent of strength training to stabilize your core to help you run faster and more efficiently, Eric has developed some super secret signature moves that you won't believe you were able to run without. (He's also an ER nurse, so if you happen to, I don't know, fall off of the treadmill, help is an arm's reach away.)

Eric Skelley

So if you're looking to amp up your run, without feeling like you're just another wanna-be athlete hanging out in a cold, impersonal gym, where it's the bottom line and not you who matters, GO TO ROCK HARD RUNNERS! It's all about you, and pure passion for the sport.

So refreshing.


Triathlete Diva

PS. If you want to meet Eric, email me! (Contact info is in the right-hand column.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Silver Bullet in the ICU

Bicycle Heaven

Here's a little story

so listen well

so your bike

won't go to hell

Should your lover

build a rack

and stick your bike

in the very back

behind the front door

where it gets whacked

tell him kindly

"This won't do!"

so this does not

happen to you

The right shifter couldn't take it any more

being hit by the front door

the repeated abuse knocked him out cold

he's lucky if he makes it out alive, I'm told

We're praying he's still under warranty

Or else this could get quite costly

He has no health insurance, you see

So just between you and me

if this should happen to thee

park your bike in front of the TV

It's a much safer place to be

Pray for the Silver Bullet. His anonymously paint-devoid frame and donated parts make him one of the most humble, kind, and stealthily fierce competitors out there.


Triathlete Diva

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Raleigh Rides Again!

Raleigh Logo

They said it couldn't be done. They said it was a relic. A beast meant for a scrapyard. They said the only reason it was still alive was to serve as a reminder of how far we've come.

At approximately 11am yesterday morning, my '96 Raleigh M7000 full-suspension mountain bike aka Crusher, proved the skeptics wrong.

He got off to a rocky start. Stolen out of my garage when he was only a few weeks old, potentially by the father of a jealous neighbor, my current M7000 is actually M7000 #2, thanks to the efforts of a loving family who realized my attachment to bikes early on and who couldn't take my bawling over the loss of Crusher #1 any longer. I still have his original brochure.

Weighing in at an impressive 30 lbs, Crusher still shifts like a pro with grip shifters, has magenta bar-ends that match the rear shock, and now sports two different SPD pedals.

He was with me in '96 for my first, and second to last, mountain bike race the summer before high school, where I wore corduroy shorts, Betty Boop tube socks, Adidas indoor soccer shoes, a rainbow-mesh covered helmet, and plastic sunglasses from Old Navy to ride my way to a respectable 6th place in the "older girls'" category of 14-17 years old.

Crusher is molded to my body, having ridden my 10 mile "epic ride" with me every day without fail from my freshman through senior year of high school. He then spent three years battling snowy, cold winters parked outside a college dorm only to return to his native environment of warm, sunny weather, ready to someday kick ass again.

And that day came yesterday, in Snow Valley, at an Xterra race.

Raleigh M7000

(Crusher and I after the race...when I realized I should take a picture of him and he was already on the I left him up there.)

The course was not technical. Perfect for Crusher, whose front shock seems ready to take on small things, and whose back shock prefers to side-step everything, moving side to side instead of up and down, in what is perhaps an ingenious evolutionary move.

Just like loose ski boots keep newbie skiiers from having to take every ill-conceived turn they might initiate, Crusher knows that I may not always have the best idea about which line of descent is best for us, so he side steps my bad ideas.

But even Crusher, who was ready to take the entire loose, sandy descent of Xterra Snow Valley like a pro, was no match for my brain, which vetoed riding a few sections of the course. We ran like madmen, hand in hand, until reaching an acceptable mounting point to proceed. Crusher even withstood the impact of a very large man who took a line to the side of the beaten path right into Crusher's behind. Upon verifying this opponent was capable of continuing on, despite completely rolling over his bike, Crusher and I continued on our mad dash for a line of descent more suitable to our riding style. (A style defined by riding once a year--the day before the race to preride the course.)

Crusher anticipates my desire to shift and effortlessly glides into the appropriate gear. Grip shifters are da bomb, and I have no idea why they went out of style. Climbing like a champ, Crusher and I descended once again into transition, unscathed and in relatively good position. (Shonny Vanlandingham, mountain-biking mega star who won the Southeast Xterra Championships this year, blasted by me just out of transition. And a few other women passed me on the downhills who are less afraid to eat dirt than I am.)

Crusher set me up for a good run, not too far behind the women who crushed us, and I set my sights on picking off the ladies ahead of me as I ran straight up and down the ski mountain 4 times. Apparently, I was saving my crash of the day for the more suitable location of running downhill right in front of a photographer.

In the end, Crusher rode me to 1st place in an age group that actually has more than 1 person racing in it. It was awesome.

So to all of those who looked at Crusher and laughed at his rosy bar-ends, "archaic" shifting system, and squeaky shocks, I say, look out! He'll catch you off guard when he passes you next! (That is, if I can ever learn to let him do his thing without hindrance from my brain.)

Yea for rockin' old bikes!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Triathlete Diva Becomes a Superhero

A friend recently created this masterpiece:

TriDiva superwoman

Triathlete Diva is officially ready to fight the crime of drafting and boring bike syndrome.

Have a happy weekend, Tri-tham City!



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Training Gets Shakey--California Quake

Coachubby and I had an 11:45am track work-out lunch date yesterday at our local high school. Arriving a few minutes early, I watched pint-sized flag-football players line up for Subway sandwiches, then migrate to a shady spot on the bleachers. Then, when the sandwich delivery van (aka a mom-mobile) drove by, the ground shook. Like in a sea-sickening wavy motion.


"Geez," I thought to myself, "these bleachers aren't engineered very well if they shake whenever a car drives by."

Then I overheard a teenager talk to her boyfriend. "I am not crazy!" she said. "It wasn't just me!"

"Did you just feel the ground shake?" I asked.


"Me too, you're not crazy."

Finally, coachubby shows up, unaware that we were all just in an earthquake. My first. At least, the first I really noticed without being told by the media that I should've noticed it. Coachubby missed it entirely, since he was already bobbing up and down as he ran over.

The quake was officially measured at a magnitude of 5.4 on the Richter Scale, and lasted only 30 seconds. The epicenter was apparently 29 miles east, southeast of Los Angeles and 7.6 miles underground.

Technically, it was kind of a baby. But it gave the media something to talk about around here besides Brangelina's twins. In fact, ABC even interrupted Oprah to show still camera shots of toiletries on the floors of Wal-Marts, and off-kilter photos on the walls of the homes of random Los Angeles families.

Los Angeles Earthquake

The moral of the story is, if you ever want to surf on land right before you do a big, painful track workout, move to Los Angeles.

And that is today's word.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Irvine to San Diego--A Birthday Cycling Extravaganza

When you're a triathlete, "best days ever" are usually described in terms of massive mileage, gallons of sweat lost, and a ridiculous amount of calories consumed.

Enter the birthday ride: a hundred mile social ride with several friends who also happen to have their birthdays within a few weeks of your own. There is no better way to celebrate. And absolutely no other reason to average 9.5 miles an hour on a century ride.

Here's how to make your own birthday ride:


10 crazy people, half with birthdays within 2 weeks of each other

birthday cycling girls

(ex: 2 bday girls above)

10 bikes

Tons of water

50+ of either PowerBars or Cliff Bars

50+ of either PowerGels, Shot Blocks, Gus, Hammer Gels

Tons of Gatorade, Cytomax, or other powder carbs may be substituted

5 PB & Js

100s of salt pills


10 valid driver's licenses

10 changes of clothes

10 good attitudes

10 excellently padded cycling shorts

TIME NEEDED: 5-12 hours, depending on the number and skill of aforementioned crazy people involved.


  • Make plans to arrive before 7:30am at Irvine Amtrak station for a 7:30am clip-in time

  • Clip in a little after 8am

  • Ride 4 miles out in the wrong direction

  • Ride 4 miles back to start

  • Ride approximately 20 minutes

  • Stop at Starbucks to commandeer the 1 restroom available

  • Ride approximately 20 more minutes, generously add Gatorade and PowerBars to riders

  • Puncture one rider's tire with large nail & washer

  • Hang around in shade for 40 minutes, keeping riders' core body temperatures at a comfortable degree

  • Ride to a beach town. Revel in gorgeousness and wonder why the beach 60 miles south of you has pretty blue water when your ocean is black. Decide not to think about it because that's nasty. Remind self that down here, people get eaten by sharks because even the sharks don't want to swim where you do.

  • Stop for 40 minutes at local bike shop so unfortunate rider #6 can get new tire. Drink more Gatorade and water.

  • Ride to the entrance of Camp Pendleton. Get excited to see men in uniform.

  • Get unexcited when man in uniform tells you the bike path is closed for military exercises.

  • Get excited again realizing that even though you have to ride on the shoulder of the I-5, you'll be riding faster than the current traffic thanks to a strategically placed accident.

  • Stop at overlook to check out "military exercises". Remark that it would be cool to see something explode. After nothing explodes, decide it would be cool to ram the port-a-potties with a military Hummer.

  • Continue down freeway with your stomach in your throat. Dodge debris. Pretend to be in the Tour de France, and that the cars now whizzing by each carry your very own Johan Bruyneel and support crew.

  • Arrive in Oceanside. Prepare for massive lunch break. Call husband to relay the information that you have ridden 50 miles in 5.5 hours. You are awesome. Lunch in Oceanside

  • Split group into two groups: one of 4, one of 6.

  • Send group of 4 onward while letting group of 6 simmer a little longer in Oceanside.

  • Every 2-5 miles, make group of 3 stop for 20-40 minutes to wait for straggler.

  • Have enraged roadie yell at group of 3 for stopping in his way on the bike path.

  • Regroup, then blast by roadie shouting "on your left!" and giving an ironically friendly wave.

  • Wonder exactly where Solana Beach is and if you'll see a shark there.

  • Remark that Nytro, the triathlon shop you have heard of that is along your route, is a lot dinkier than you thought it'd be.

  • Somehow miss Solana Beach entirely, feeling relieved that you went by and lived to tell the tale...even when not swimming.

  • Balk at the huge 1.5ish mile climb into Torrey Pines.

  • Decide Mission Bay is super cool.

  • Decide riding by the San Diego Airport is the most opposite of super cool.

  • Celebrate making it downtown to the Amtrak station by adding a 4 mile loop by creepy airport to make it an even 100.

  • Feel befuddled that Group of 6 arrives only 10 minutes after you.

  • Miss the 6:20pm train back. Acknowledge that you have officially been in the same bike shorts for 10.5 hours--without doing an Ironman. Realize nobody will want to be in your 8pm train car with you.

  • Take Amtrak back to Irvine. Watch ticket puncher man hit on your friend.

Cyclist Amtrak to Irvine

Happy Social Riding!

PS. On the next page are directions for the Irvine to San Diego ride, should you feel like doing it. If you do it right, it's 88 miles. Mostly good roads. A few sketchy parts through downtown beach town areas (like Oceanside) where there is no bike lane and there are quite a few stop lights. Gorgeous along the coast!

PPS. If you have a large group, make sure to ask for a group discount for the train ride. Our tickets were only $13 per person!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Mountain Man Triathlon Relay--How Big Are Your Lungs?

Flagstaff is up there. Really high. Like high enough to make training in the city of Boulder look like the sissiest thing to do as a triathlete just after drafting. So what better place to have a triathlon?

Mountain Man Triathlon logo

Mountain Man Events had that idea 24 years ago when they held the first Mountain Man triathlon at Lake Mary, just south-east of Flagstaff, at a whopping 6, 910 feet. If you've ever felt breathless during the swim, try racing in Lake Mary. Its calm waters and absolutely gorgeous, pristine (minus the fire that must've burned across the lake recently) surroundings will make you forget there is no air to breathe. Well, there is some, you just have to have lungs the size of Macca's to get enough in. That's why my dad and I made coachubby swim.

Waiting in T1

I hung around with my bike sitting pretty in the grass, chatting with my dad while waiting for coachubby to run up to me and transfer the timing chip. There was absolutely no rack space for Stealth Pinky (my bike). This triathlon seems to have exploded a bit more than the friendly race director imagined it would.

Suddenly, coachubby came running up right beside another relay swimmer. He executed the timing chip ankle-off and I charged up the hill out of the parking lot to begin the 40K time trial.

The Mountain Man bike course is probably one of the most gorgeous in existence. There is nothing out there. Just forest, a few camp grounds, and miles of relatively traffic-free road. Going out is mostly uphill, though you may not realize it, so coming back is quite a treat--until the last 4 miles heading west around Lake Mary. A killer headwind will fry your quads if the absence of oxygen hasn't already.

Volunteers and cheer squads are scarce; everyone who makes it that far down the two-lane road to Lake Mary is probably there to be in the race. It is a pure endurance race situation--just you vs. yourself vs. the people around you. Grandma and your neighbors probably haven't parked themselves along the highway to cheer.

I made the return of the out-and-back Olympic distance ride about 8 minutes faster than the ride out, dumping myself into transition, unaware of any dismount line that might have been in place (I don't think they remembered one.). Padre took the chip off of my ankle, slapped it on his, then took off through transition--but not before noting that he had to run half a mile farther than planned because had I entered on the east side of the long and skinny transition area and he had to run all the way out the west side.

Lake mary sign

Coachubby and I felt confident padre could hold off the other rabid relay members. We walked down the road, hoping to catch him at the bottom of the killer 1.5ish mile uphill switchback that makes the run most painful. (Thanks for doing it, dad!)

Then...there he was! Padre was still running! And at a most excellent pace. He couldn't talk, though, so I wasn't sure if he'd mind my running the last mile with him. So I did, because he couldn't tell me otherwise. When we got close, I ran behind, screaming as he crossed the finish line and received his first triathlon medal. It was awesome.

Winning Legs

We changed clothes then eagerly checked out the results...WE WON! WOO HOO! Co-ed relay #1! Shortly thereafter, padre received his 1st place triathlon plaque. Not bad for his first race.

The moral of this story? DO A RELAY! They are awesome, and totally revamp your view of triathlon...should you have needed some revamping...what, with Ironman entry fees making women consider selling their eggs, and total burnout from months of non-stop training encouraged by living in a place with eternal spring.

We win!

Plus, it's a killer way to get friends and family involved who otherwise couldn't, if they don't swim, for instance, or can't run because of an injury. It was way more gratifying to watch my dad cross the finish line at Mountain Man than do it myself. And more fun to make him run up the gigantor hill at killer altitude than do it myself. :)

Happy relay racing!


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Beware the Ring of Fire!

I've discussed the unfortunate back burn pattern known as the smiley, but now there is a new burn design on the rise among triathletes and cyclists alike: the Ring of Fire!

Ring of Fire

This strange and painful burn occurs when you put spray sunscreen on after you've already suited up in your jersey, then go for a long ride. As you pedal, your jersey sleeves sneak up a little bit, exposing your virgin skin to the hot sun, toasting a ring around your bicep.

Tips for Ring of Fire avoidance: Roll your sleeves up before you spray sunscreen on. OR put sunscreen on naked, let dry, proceed to dress. (Of course, if you like to draw attention to your biceps, the Ring of Fire is an excellent way to do so.)

Happy summer training!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Johan Bruyneel Talks to Triathlete Diva

...and 200+ other people...


(Coachubby, Bruyneel, and me.)

Johan Bruyneel, the mastermind behind Lance's 7 Tour de France wins and Alberto Contador's 2007 Tour win (and a gagillion other wins at every major cycling race in the world), was at the Bicycle Superstore in San Diego yesterday to promote his new book, "We Might as Well Win."

Johan Bruyneel's Book Bicycle Superstore

The book is a very quick read. It's only about 200 pages, and takes you along in the race director's car with Bruyneel at Lance's and Contador's races. He speaks about team dynamics, his ground breaking Tour strategies, and about his life as a pro cyclist in the Tour. (Incredible cliff crash sequence included.) In short, if you love a bike, you'll love this book.

The only quip I had with it was the ending. The way the story is told, Bruyneel had to prove to himself that he could win the Tour without Lance, then he would walk away from it all and retire happy. So when he won with Contador last year, according to the book, he was content and ready to spend time with his family.

Perhaps this is the state of mind he was in when the book was completed, but it seems to be a kind of cop out from speaking against Tour organizers (the ASO) for treating Bruyneel and his team unfairly. It's no secret that Bruyneel was going to return to the Tour this year with Astana and Contador--with a team favored to win. When his team was not invited, he point blank asked organizers if it was because of him that Astana would not be allowed to race, because if that were the case, he'd retire then and there.

August's Bicycling Magazine states that their editors spoke to European insiders who "agreed that ASO excluded Astana mainly as retribution against Bruyneel, but did not want to be publicly identified with such a statement." Thereby confirming Bobke's sentiment that French people are babies. If they can't beat Bruyneel's team, they'll take it out of contention to give themselves a better chance of finally winning their own race.

Marc Peruzzi said the scandal was like "if the NCAA simply couldn't accept John Wooden's domination as the coach of UCLA's basketball team--seven national championships in a row and an astonishing 88-game win streak--and sat him down so someone else could win one." (See the August issue of Bicycling Magazine for a great article on the Tour, Bruyneel, Astana, and the riders kept out of contention for the Tour win this year.)

None of these controversial topics are covered by Bruyneel in any detail.

He did, however, answer a question I found interesting: What does he think of Rock Racing?

Rock Racing logo

For anyone who witnessed the over-the-top, ridiculous spread they had at the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix a few weeks ago, this would be a topic of interest. They're obnoxious, loud, rude, and their owner, Michael Ball, is all of these things and then some. His actions have been described by the Fat Cyclist as "hilariously insane".

So while most people would relish their quick demise, and to write them off as nothing but a freak show, Bruyneel brought a little perspective to the cycling game: Rock Racing is getting people talking about cycling. Period. Not only that, they're getting Americans to talk about cycling, and that's something that's very hard to do! (I added that part.)

Basically, Bruyneel's take on the team was that any press is good press. Even horrifically bad press, like the kind that Michael Ball and his racers have garnered over the entire single year they've been a team.

Ball has made a lot of mistakes, said Bruyneel, but so does everyone when starting out. The key, now, is to learn from them and really step up to the plate in the next few years, stop being an ass-wipe to race organizers (my words, not Bruyneel's), and get it in gear, because his team does have the chance to compete at an international level.

So there you have it. In a very diplomatic way, Bruyneel voiced his opinion on the one team several Americans are now familiar with, because as a country, we like to buy ridiculously expensive jeans more than we like to ride our bikes.

Happy cycling! (And obsessive Tour de France tracking!)


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Road Rage Leaves Local Cyclists Mangled in Mandeville Canyon

If you live in Southern California, you've probably already heard of this incident that has the active community in a rage.

Apparently 59 year old ER physician, Christopher Thompson, hasn't seen enough action lately, so he decided to get himself a few more patients by slamming on his brakes in front of two cyclists descending Mandeville Canyon at 30 mph as a part of a 4th of July celebratory ride.

Then to make matters worse, he jumped out of his car and continued on a verbal tirade, while cyclist Ron Peterson removed his face from the a-hole's back window.

I think purposefully sending a respectful, CAT1 cyclist through the back window of your status car is in direct opposition to the Hippocratic Oath. Particularly to this part: "I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone."

Bloody car

Being a 58 year-old, my guess is he did, in fact, take this oath while in medical school, since he graduated before the practice was largely abandoned by schools at graduation.

LAPD arrested the man and will be filing the incident as a felony criminal assault. Surely, after trying to kill people, he will not be allowed to practice medicine any longer? RIGHT? And then he'll have to move out of his Mandeville Canyon home, where several uphill time trials are conducted by various cycling groups every week.

He should have to register like a sex offender in some kind of cyclist-offender registry, which would make it impossible for him to live within a 20 mile radius of anywhere frequented by cyclists. A-hole. And to make matters worse, this man was previously involved in an a-hole-cyclist road rage incident. He's a repeat offender! Next time he's allowed to drive, he'll probably kill someone.

Smashed cyclist face

By now you non SoCal residents probably want to hop on a plane to mangle this so-called "Doctor". Here's your next best option for retribution: A meeting called by LA Council member, Bill Rosendahl, about improving safety on Mandeville Canyon for cyclists and drivers, and discussing ways to get the word out about sharing the road.

My guess is people like this disturbed Mr. Thompson would only get more enraged by "Share the Road" signs, but it all helps. The actual incident, stresses Rosendahl, will not be discussed at the meeting.

Who: Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl

Los Angeles Police Department

Los Angeles Department of Transportation

Homeowners Association representatives

Bicycle Activists

When: Monday, July 14, 2008 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Where: West Los Angeles Municipal Building - 2nd floor Hearing Room

1645 Corinth Avenue (between Iowa and Santa Monica Blvd.)

Los Angeles, CA 90025

(Automobile Parking available behind the Municipal Building)

(Bicycle Parking at bike racks and allowed in the building lobby)

Here's to hoping the people driving around you actually do drive AROUND you and have enough sanity to not WANT to kill you.

UPDATE: According to this website, Thompson now runs a Woodland Hills medical documentation company called Touch Medix and is no longer a practicing doctor. Hence why he felt it was ok to send people to the ER? Because he wouldn't have to heal them?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Female Triathlete? You Need Birth Control!

Female runner

Ok, so maybe you don't if, say, you're trying to get pregnant. But there are two very important reasons you should be on birth control if you're a competitive female triathlete (this means you Ironwomen!):

1. You can pretty much guarantee Mother Nature won't be delivering an unwanted gift right before your "A" race...or any other races you have this year.


2. Your bones need the estrogen.

osteoporotic bone

If reason number one doesn't already have you signing up for The Pill, reason number 2 should get your attention.

If you're a competitive athlete, chances are you're training a lot. Like up to 20 hours a week during your peak phase of Ironman training. And chances are your affinity for chocolate cake and anything else densely calorific just won't keep enough body fat on your seemingly strong, lean, athlete's body to ensure you have the ideal estrogen levels to keep a regular period. In fact, a Stanford study states that "healthy women who began training for a marathon reduced their estrogen levels by over 50%"!

Without estrogen, your bones will rapidly deteriorate. And no amount of weight training, an activity routinely suggested to up your bone density, can fix it.

If you're already experienced the loss of some bone density, don't panic! The sooner you detect it, the sooner you can take steps to halt the deterioration. In fact, if it hasn't been too long, you may even be able to build your bones back up--with birth control pills! The pills contain that bone-loving hormone your ridiculous training has sucked from your body: estrogen.

girl power swim cap

So if you've been without your female friend for a little while now, and have probably been thinking it's a blessing it went away, think again and see your doctor ASAP. Discuss hormone therapy with her, because stopping your training (the other option) probably isn't really an option to you.


BONUS: Pills like Seasonale allow you to take pills for 3 months straight, so you only have a period 4x/year, and they also come in generic options.

Happy non-osteoporotic training!